Tagged: baby

This is what two looks like

I can scarcely believe the time has gone so quickly, but our little B is two!

It has been the best two years of my life. (And his! Haha.)

We have had good times, fun, love and joy. My life feels infinitely more wonderful, even though it was pretty wonderful to start off with and I’m very lucky.

It’s hard to believe that the dark days of infertility consumed so many years. I definitely feel like so much of me has healed.

Two years of us being parents. (Who knew we could actually be grown ups?!) We are still the same people and yet we are completely different. Two adoptees who now have a genetic relative. It’s been pretty huge. And a blast.

Every mother probably thinks her kid is the best in the world. B is, to me. I mean, there are some cool kids about, but he’s my one.

If I had to summarise him at two I would say he’s active, mischievous, funny, musical, loving, and definitely not a morning person!

This year his favourite things have changed from Dog and Teletubbies to Dog and Blippi. If you don’t know who Blippi is, he’s a YouTube star who makes educational videos for kids. I actually feel quite blessed as they are a whole lot more entertaining than Teletubbies (or – horror of horrors – In The Night Garden). He has a quite… idiosyncratic way of dressing (see below) – apparently he decided on blue for trustworthiness and orange for creativity!

This year I was marginally more organised so I made B a birthday cake. I did make one last year too but it was far less planned and a bit of a disaster, so I was determined to up my game this year. I spent about 60 quid in Hobbycraft on ridiculous amounts of icing and tools. I’ve never done fondant before because I’m a buttercream cake maker really. But I didn’t think what I had in mind would work in buttercream. It turns out I do not like working with fondant!

Behold my first attempt at fondant cake decorating!

It was tricky, but I was pleased with how it turned out. Mainly because our little Blippi was super pleased with it. I also cobbled together a Blippi outfit for him that was just super cute. We had managed to find the Blippi official trainers (sneakers!) that he absolutely loved. It was so cute… He said, “Bippi! Me!”

On the day of his birthday we took the day off work and took him on a trip to a soft play centre and the Natural History Museum. It was great, mainly because most people were at work so it wasn’t so busy. And two is such a fun age where they can walk and talk (a bit, mainly babbling) and really enjoy stuff.

B’s birthday also marked two years of breastfeeding! Which really isn’t something I ever planned to do. I was going to aim for six months, and then six months became a year and a year became two. And it seems unlikely to stop at two. We decided to go for natural term weaning – although if he ends up being seven and breastfeeding then there might be some weaning involved!

I don’t think I’m a militant breastfeeder or anything. I don’t aim to be, anyway. It works for us, but I was prepared for it not to. I kind of thought that we’d end up formula feeding and I wasn’t too worried about it. I was formula fed and I turned okay (although did have some serious health problems as a baby, probably as a result of being separated from my mother at such a young age). I thought I’d give it a go but expected that like most other baby related stuff (conception, birth!) it wouldn’t work well for me.

But work it did – B never really had much of an issue and it turns out if there’s one thing my body can do naturally, it’s breastfeeding. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. I had to go back to work at four months because I didn’t get maternity pay. And that sucked. I had to pump so that B could continue to be EBF. He has always been a bit of a milk monster so that was a lot of pumping. I realised I’d been pumping for 1 and 2/3 years! I had committed to pumping until he turned two.

After the Christmas break I decided that enough was enough. Pumping is difficult and not fun. I totally didn’t do it for the love of it. The love of B, sure. But pumping was quite frankly a bitch. And there didn’t seem much point in B rejoining nursery/daycare after two weeks off and me re-starting pumping just to stop it again a few weeks later when he turned two. He was down to one milk a day after his midday nap, and I thought now he’s older he could probably forego it without any issues. (He still has milk at home.)

So just like that, my pumping days are over. Although not quite. I’ve been pumping a few times just to make a freezer stash. It’s actually been really liberating not to have to pump in the work bathrooms or rush home early to pump. I just have done it since new year if it was convenient and if I felt like it.

I won’t miss the hanging out in the disabled loos, carrying an extra large bag to fit pump parts, wearing bf/pumping clothes to work, and constantly having to figure out how to make the time to pump.

I will miss that feeling of doing something for my child, because he’s the only child I’ll have, and that part of his babyhood is now over.

I don’t yearn for babyhood again because he’s awesome now. I enjoyed it at the time but I feel immensely privileged I get to go on this journey and nurture my own child and watch him grow.

So… the end of an era. But just the beginning of the rest of his life.

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Just the two of us…

On Wednesday, B’s nursery was closed for an inset day and T had to go back to work, so I took the day off and we had a little one on one time.

We went to the Museum of London Docklands where he had a great time wandering around the exhibits, and playing in the children’s area. It’s amazing to find out about the city we live in, and it’s all free!

The children’s area is fantastic with lots of interactive play areas and we didn’t do the half of it because he spent the entire allotted time in soft play!

We went next door and shared a pizza and garlic bread at Pizza Pilgrims, where they give kids some stickers to keep them occupied. He enjoyed sticking them all over the place whilst swigging water and munching garlic bread, and the staff made a fuss of him whilst mama had a cheeky rosé. He loved it!

And we went to the Crossrail gardens where he enjoyed running about and shouting “Hello!” at a bird in a tree for half an hour.

We had a wonderful day. It’s so much fun to see the world through a child’s eyes. And it was all free apart from the pizza! It was lovely to spend time together and he still had a great time playing, even though it was just the two of us most of the time.

I don’t doubt there will be times in his life where he asks why he doesn’t have a sibling and maybe even asks if we can have one. But for now, he loves his dog brother and he loves his parents, and this mama enjoyed the fact that we could spend a precious day together, just the two of us. 💕

Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve all! I’ve spent the day off work with my one and only, and my overwhelming feeling is gratitude. (Well, that and realising I really dislike wrapping.)

It took a while to get here. I was told I’d never have kids naturally, and after over a decade of infertility and loss, operations, IVF and immune therapy – we had our son last year.

I feel so lucky that I get to experience all this – Christmas through a child’s eyes; the beginnings of him understanding the magic of Christmas… visiting Santa… Christmas shows… trying to persuade him not to open all the presents before tomorrow… and all the matching clothes before he gets too good at talking! 😂

All of us who have “only” one child are conscious, I guess, that we will only do this stuff once. And that can feel bittersweet. He’s not yet two and I’ll never get to have a baby again. A bunch of friends are on #2 now and we’ll only ever have #1.

But once is one better than I ever thought I’d get. So I’m going to enjoy all the only times. Because we are so lucky.

I have friends who can’t have any and I still remember what that felt like. I have people close to me who’ve been fighting battles I can’t even begin to imagine. I have a friend who lost her battle this year. We never know what life will bring.

I say parents of onlies are lucky because they’ll always be our #1. And #1 is a pretty awesome position to be! We are the ones who get the time to savour it, and that’s a privilege I hope I live up to. (And I hope we still have a few years of twinning left! 😂)

Merry Christmas to you and yours! You’re all awesome! 💕

A meditation on wooden toys

Or: Feelings when your 21 year old scribbles on the £90 “open ended play” wobbel board (my gift to him on his first birthday).

When this happens to your natural wobbel and it doesn’t come off…

– It doesn’t affect usage – it still functions perfectly as a wobbly board and slide and baby doll rocker and toy car ramp and…

– It’s one of a kind! Personalised by its owner. (Yes, the kid owns it… I don’t!)

– It will probably have more “personalisations” before the kid is done with it. And whilst it’s not encouraged, it’s okay.

The world keeps turning.

My child is healthy and happy.

I’m grateful I live in a place where we don’t have to worry about most of the things that negatively affect the world’s children today. My child isn’t living in poverty or fleeing war or suffering abuse or neglect.

I understand we buy these beautiful (and expensive) things for our children and it’s disappointing when they scribble on them, and I had a moment of, “Oh no!”

But… I was someone who was told I’d never have a child naturally, so I’m just grateful I get to have my child scribble and for that scribble to be preserved for posterity.

For the lost babies, and for the never-borns, and for the parents without children and for the never-parents with spaces in their hearts where babies should be, I dedicate this wobbel. To me it’s perfect. 🌈❤️

Transporting a kid

I’ve been meaning to write for a while about the rabbit hole that is…

(Cue spooky music, it is Halloween after all!)

Transporting a child.

Now, before I had a baby I had not given much thought to it. I assumed I would get a pram (or stroller as Americans call them, or buggy or pushchair as British people call them… so many names).

We went to the baby shows and we decided only the best for our unborn child!!!

Which was the eye-wateringly expensive Stokke Scoot. Now, almost two years on I still love Stokke. There’s some good old Scandinavian engineering there.

And the £700ish worth of pushchair has sat in our hallway for a year and a half and I estimate we have used it about 5 times.

Why? I hear you ask. (I mean, it’s such a tasteful shade of muted grey! I remember obsessing for ages about getting all the matching accessories!)

Well, we started out living in a one bedroom flat on the second floor (double height) which meant we had to walk up and down eight flights of stairs. And I had an emergency c section so I couldn’t really lift this 8kg thing in and out of the car boot very easily. And babies as it turns out are really small and very portable.

In that first shipment from the designer baby shop I thought I might as well chuck in a sling. That was mainly because it was grey with stars on, and that was kind of our motif.

First day we got back home and I went out to our local M&S food hall (because dammit mama needed soft rinded unpasteurised cheese!) and took baby B in the sling.

And it stuck.

Wore it for like three months and everyone commented how he was a dream baby, always sleeping on his mama. Because as it turns out, babies like to sleep on their mama. And I unexpectedly turned out to have one thing my defective body could actually do and that was breastfeeding. And breastfeeding is easier in a sling than a pushchair. And I live in London where everyone uses public transport and who wants to be lugging a giant pram on and off a bus or down steps and escalators to the tube?

We had months of freedom and we loved it. And my initial perception of slings as limited to hippy earth mothers turned into a slight feeling of – eek! Maybe I’m one of those!

At three-ish months he was getting a bit big and my shoulder was getting a bit sore so I decided to try a wrap. Wraps are just long pieces of material you tie to carry your baby. It’s easier as it moulds to your and your baby’s body and you can carry two shouldered, and they are super comfortable.

So I got my first wrap.

And then I discovered… high end babywearing.

Oh dear lord, if there isn’t a whole world of craziness. Turns out people will pay loads to get hold of pieces of material. And yet… they’re so pretty!

Reader, I fell down that rabbit hole.

Behold a phenomenon called “stash shot Saturday” – if you ever see #sss on social media and a pile of material, it’ll most probably be babywearing stuff.

And yet… it’s so pretty!

(Kid loves it too.)

The high end babywearing world is a completely other world. What you’re about to see is not even considered a big stash! It kind of is a bit of a phenomenon. Wrap manufactures do small releases and people have to bid for the chance to buy them. You might not even “win” an invoice! (A chance to pay hundreds for a piece of material!) People trade used wraps and they can even fetch retail or above retail prices (though the bottom has fallen out of the market in the last couple of years). It’s the only market I can think of where second hand stuff can potentially fetch what you paid for it. (I do think it’s a bit Emperor’s New Clothes at times but I only buy wraps that I can afford and that I like, so am potentially fine not getting any money back on them.)

So… #sss!

My pretties (bottom to top):

  1. My first wrap, Kokadi Diorite Stars size 6 (a common base size – it means you can do most carries with it). It wasn’t “High end” which means it wasn’t expensive. But I loved it. It’s 100% cotton and I learned to wrap with it.
  2. Kokoro mini ren Nero 6 – my second wrap. They’re quite rare. At that point I really wanted an entirely mono stash. But as you can see, things changed!
  3. Omnifera Heart Rock Montmartre 4 – I was desperate for this. For ages they only had one Heart Rock pattern. It is geometric mountains and it’s really gorgeous. This was limited to the Paris babywearing show. I couldn’t go but a friend bought it for me after I PayPal-ed her the money! Crazy. Was going down the rabbit hole at this point. Haha.
  4. Omnifera Heart Rock Aoraki 5 – this is the same pattern but different blend for summer and is very light blue. Most wraps have an inverted colour pattern on the other side.
  5. Woven Wings Eeyore RS (ring sling) – once B got to walking it turns out he prefers to be in and out a lot, and up and down. So RS are easier. This is my latest RS but I arranged the stash according to manufacturer! Woven Wings are a british brand and very big in the babywearing world. Their followers are called Winglets! They get a little fanatical!
  6. Woven Wings London RS – My first RS and not my last. Very early release. I think it’s cool.
  7. Kenhuru Valentine’s Sky Wedmid RS – I absolutely love this one. I was a fan of Kenhuru from the beginning as they’ve only been going about a year. I had a tester and got the bug. I loved this one but missed the release as I didn’t have funds. Then I got it in a mystery bag (where you pay a lot less but don’t know what you’re going to get). It’s a gorgeous deep red on one side and blue on the other. My favourite colours. The geometric pattern converges to make little bear icons which are really cool.
  8. Kenhuru Rok Starlight RS – I got this in a mystery bag when I already had Rok Starlight which was one of Kenhuru’s first releases. It was sort of a shame to get the same blend but I ended up using the RS a lot more than the wrap.
  9. Kenhuru Rok Starlight 4 – My first go at a shorter wrap. It’s a great workhorse and I didn’t worry about it too much as it wasn’t as expensive as the other high end wraps, so I actually ended up using it more.

B absolutely loves being carried and it’s a huge thing for me. Super healing I guess for things I didn’t even think I needed to heal from. (Infertility… loss… but also adoption. Giving birth to a biological child as an adoptee brings up a lot of emotions.)

It’s been a fun journey. I realised I have carried him pretty much every day since he was born. The only exceptions being the time I went on a work trip for a few days, and I really missed him. It’s a great thing and I like to think that and breastfeeding is giving us a good foundation for our future relationship. (Of course he may become one of those sulky teenagers but that’s almost a given, considering what a moody cow I am!)

When we went to see my bff overseas a few months ago, we finally realised we needed an alternative to babywearing. Babywearing is amazing and wonderful but when it’s 35 degrees C it can be a touch sweaty.

B has been a stroller refuser forever but even he agreed. I got him a horrendous cheap lime green extremely distasteful cheapie from the nearest baby shop, and he tolerated it! He always screamed the place down in the very expensive Stokke and demanded to be out and held. But in the sweltering heat, he decided he preferred to have his own air circulating rather than his mother’s sweat.

So the hunt was on for a decent occasional stroller!

Now I’m kind of a crazy obsessive when it comes to traveling light. I don’t really end up doing it but I have a love for compactness and one bag travel. I’m literally obsessed with rucksacks. (You lot call them backpacks.) I buy so many of them in the search for the perfect one. So of course I wanted to find a lightweight compact stroller for traveling and when we were somewhere hot and babywearing wasn’t practical. And for public transport etc in London where massive prams are just a pain.

Reader, I found it.

Behold… the gb (goodbaby) Pockit+. This is the new improved compact foldable buggy that is slightly bigger / heavier but has better features than the original Pockit.

Pretty much everyone in London either uses the Bugaboo Bee or the Babyzen Yoyo for their lightweight stroller. Which are both £300+ prams. It just didn’t appeal to me, partly because I don’t want to pay that much for something I won’t use very often and partly because I like to kid myself that I’m different.

Anyway, it’s great. Here it is next to my handbag so you can see it folds super compact.

My handbag is a small cross body bag so if you have a big handbag you could more or less fit it in there! Although it has its own bag (which also folds down into a little wallet size, which appeals to my sense of small travel stuff).

Here it is next to the Babyzen Yoyo. It doesn’t look like it because of the angle (it was at nursery) but it’s smaller than the Yoyo when folded. The Yoyo doesn’t have a carry bag and it just looks messier to me. But it does have a much larger basket underneath. It’s heavier too but most people aren’t obsessed with saving weight.

Anyway my point is that if you are in the market for a Yoyo or a Bee then you might consider a Pockit+. It comes with a rain cover too and bizarrely the kid – who hated the Stokke – loves to ride around in it and will climb into it by himself. It’s also easily washable as you just take the material off and shove it in the wash. I’m happy with it and it’s a lot cheaper than the Yoyo which is just as well as I spent like £1000 on the initial Stokke pram, car seat and bundle! (I guess it’s time to sell the barely used Stokke.)

So there you have it, my review of transporting my kid about. Caveat: There’s no right way. It’s just what works for you and your lifestyle. I’m a lazy mama who prefers to travel light rather than weigh myself down with everything that I might possibly need. I have friends who travel like pack horses. The plus being that they usually have what we need if we ever need it! (Uppababy devotees. Couldn’t fit through a single door but on the plus side they could probably camp out at short notice if they had to!)

I also have far too many thoughts on rucksacks but those will have to wait for another post. Believe me, I know you’re on the edge of your seat just waiting to hear about those! 😂

On motherhood and happiness

Had one of my decompression nights last night – dinner with a few girlfriends. Three of us have one child; one has two, and the other two with one are trying for another. So naturally on mum’s night out the kids were a topic of conversation. (And bikini waxes, but that’s another story!)

We got onto the subject of “onlies” and the conversation didn’t go the way I expected…

It started the way I expected with the whole, “We want another so he won’t be on his own when we die.” (We all agreed that this probably wouldn’t happen!)

Then our friend with two said: It’s actually very hard with two. (She’s a single parent who co-parents with her ex.)

Then our friend with one said: We are actually really happy with our one, and if it doesn’t happen then we won’t be upset.

I said, we are happy and we don’t want another because we feel so very lucky with the one we have, and because I thought I’d never be a mother.

Then our friend who lost her first baby (tragically stillborn) said: We’d love to have another but we will just see what happens. It’s not the same as when we were trying to have our baby after our first died. We are happy.

Then she said something else: She said, “You know, I’ve never seen you become frustrated with him. You are so patient! I don’t think you’ve ever even raised your voice to him.”

And the funny thing is, I don’t think of myself as a patient person. I’m a hothead. But I think she’s right.

I’ve never had to shout at him. I don’t think I feel frustrated with him because – well, he’s a baby, and he can’t fully express himself and that must be frustrating for him, but also – I can’t tell you how much I wanted this.

Ten years. More than ten, depending on how you count it. A decade of barrenness. Operations, IVF, miscarriage, immune therapy. Thinking of a life where I would have to learn to be happily childfree. (And I think we would have been, but we needed to know we had tried everything first.)

I genuinely don’t feel that frustration because I think he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. And I’m lucky because a lot of good things have happened, and it almost fades the lonely and sad years of infertility and despair out of existence.

But not quite. I remember what it was like to be always the aunt, always the “fun childless friend”. I don’t take this – motherhood – for granted. I will relish all the days.

So – yes – I can be patient. But I’m not a saint. I’m just someone who knows how bloody lucky I am.

running

Eek! We did it!

After my previous post about liking B’s long hair, I caved to the pressure (and the fact that it’s so hot here and the hair at the back was bugging him) and we got B’s hair cut for the first time!

We went to our local kids’ salon which is really quite cute and totally set up for kids. However this does mean that the kids scream the place down if they don’t like it. We arrived and some kid was already doing that… We decamped to the cafe before being called back.

B was fine. He’s a generally chilled kid. He enjoyed sitting in the little car and pretending to drive it whilst an annoying lady fiddled with his hair.

The other kid on the other hand SCREAMED the place down! Was sort of funny and sort of OMG YOU ARE RUINING MY SON’S FIRST HAIRCUT! (Jk)

We did the first haircut thing where you get a certificate and a lock of hair. There wasn’t much as she didn’t cut much off! We basically just trimmed the back bit that annoys him. (We can tell as he scratches at it and has scratch marks from his nails!) And a little bit round the sides by his ears. Left the top long so he still has a side parting and can have a top knot. She wanted to trim it more but I said no!

Not sure what made me cave when I do actually like his long hair. It’s mainly that it’s really hot here right now and impractical. I have long hair and I wear it up when I’m at home (messy bun I wouldn’t go out of the house wearing it!) so I can imagine he gets hot, although his hair is just light and fluffy.

Anyway, as T said – hair grows back.

Overall he’s had a positive reaction and it isn’t too drastic so hopefully we did the right thing! I know it’s not a big deal but it seemed like quite a big thing to have his first haircut. Now it’s out of the way I can be less sentimental about it!

Long hair, don’t care…

So there’s a lot of things I didn’t think I’d do as a mother: extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, vegetarianism and whatnot.

What I didn’t think was that I’d be the mother of a long haired little boy.

I guess I always thought it was a bit… hippy… and I don’t really see myself as the natural earth mother sort. I actually was probably a little bit <whispers> judgy about the long haired boys…

And somehow I’ve ended up with one!

It’s not really a statement about anything but more the fact that I haven’t gotten around to getting his first haircut. (He’s 18 months.) And I don’t trust his dad to do it as he’s likely to end up with a pudding bowl!

I don’t think I’d want it particularly short anyway, but I think it looks cute how it is. He tends to have it in a little topknot or “man bun” because of the hot weather. I kind of think he can get away with it because he’s “ethnic”… and mainly because he’s cute!

But a part of me thinks it’s a bit hokey and at some point I’ll get it cut. His dad wants to get it cut but also doesn’t mind the ponytails… The nursery workers tend to put it into a braid and that looks cute as well, but is out of my ability range!

The more people tell me I “must” get it cut, the more I think – why?

Why do boys have to have short hair and girls long hair?

(I have long hair but it’s less through design than the fact that I hate having my hair cut.)

I’m not one of those gender neutral dressers of kids… (Not that there’s anything wrong with it; I just find it cute and comfortable for him to wear boys’ clothes. I’m happy for him to wear what he wants when he’s of an age to choose.) I’m not trying to make him look gender neutral or like a girl.

I just think there’s nothing wrong with his hair as it is.

And so it begins…

The first of our antenatal group is pregnant with #2. She’ll just about make it to 2 under 2. (The second is due on the first’s birthday! Poor kid!) I don’t feel terrible about it… I just feel a bit, “meh.”

She was a complete nightmare during pregnancy and most of the first year – super anxious and burning up our group WhatsApp on a daily basis with hundreds of messages about herself and her (totally healthy) baby, so much that I had to mute the group when I had to go back to work at four months. (I’d be pumping in the loos and they’d all be whinging about their babies, when I desperately wanted to be with mine.)

Am now considering whether it’s time to leave the group… Whilst I’m okay (I think) with them moving to #2, I still have some difficult feelings when I hear of people getting pregnant really easily.

I guess it’s a rite of passage for parents of onlies, and I’m thankful we have our only after all the years of having none, but still…

Sunny days

B and I are on a little jaunt to see my BFF in Italy. It’s beautiful… and hot! I’ve been promising her for about five years I’d come and visit but with one thing and another, it’s taken so long to actually make it here.

I only took three days off work but it feels like it’s stretching out and we are in a bliss filled bubble of gelato and delicious Italian food! We also have a funny paddling pool on the balcony that’s big enough for us all to sit in.

It’s been great to catch up with my best friend and also to enjoy B in a longer, holiday mode! I always spend weekends with him but I can’t quite describe how fun it is to see the world through his eyes. It makes me remember the joy in little things. I do generally enjoy my job but it’s been a stressful few months and a holiday is exactly what I needed!

Looking forward to our proper summer holiday later in the year, and of course missing T and Dog, but relishing this short break while it lasts!

A few pics to entertain you…